rises, patriotic commitment falls
surveys across Ukraine show that 82 percent of the population consider
themselves patriotic – a 5 percent rise since 2010. Responses to the survey
broke down as follows: 40 percent definitely patriotic, 42 percent more
patriotic than not, while only 10 percent claim not to be patriotic at all.
unsurprisingly the greatest consolidation of patriots can be found in the western
and northern regions of Ukraine. Ukrainians define patriotism as taking pride
in their country, their people, the territory they live on, their culture,
nature, Ukrainian history, and association with the great historical figures of
identity still retains a significant presence in Ukraine: one third of
supporters of the Communist Party (6-8 percent of the total electorate) and
almost every 6th supporter of the governing Party of Regions (20-25
percent of the total electorate) identify themselves as Soviet.
whilst the number of self-titled patriots rises the number of people prepared
to defend Ukraine with arms has fallen, from 43 percent to 33 percent, and the
number of those totally unprepared to defend the nation has risen from 38
percent to 54 percent.
expected, the West is the most prepared to protect Ukraine’s territorial
integrity, while the South is the least. At the same time, if the referendum on
independence was held today, then only 61% of Ukrainians would vote for it
(compared to over 90 percent in 1991) while 26 percent would not support it at
all. While support for Independence varies across the country: 90 percent in
the west, 70 percent in the north and centre and less than half in the east and
south, 80 percent of all Ukrainians from all regions are against separating any
territories from Ukraine. Thus while there may be disagreement as to Ukraine’s
political future, territorial integrity is something the country can unite on.
Comment: Nobody in their right mind would
ever doubt any Ukrainians devout patriotism after all it is only really
patriotism and cultural values that has held the entire nation together for the
past 350 years of repression. Whilst
this is laudable for any nation it is not enough upon which to build a modern
democratic State. States exist not
because of the fervour of its people but because of vision of it’s leaders and
the systems that enable that vision to be realised.
The United States of America was not created by the Pilgrim fathers who
landed in 1620 but out of the Declaration of Independence of 1776, the
Constitution of 1787, the Bill of rights of 1791 and the clear understanding
that these founding documents were inviolate and backed by the rule of law. Ukraine had it’s ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ for 350
years that kept the spirit alive, it’s declaration of Independence in 1991, its
Constitution in 1996 but sadly no bill of rights, no rule of law and documents
that have been violated so many times as to make them virtually worthless. So what was the difference?
The early Americans realised that if the great wealth of the American
nation was to be fully realised then it had to be within the framework of the
rule of law. How the west was won has
become the source of legends but interestingly almost all the American legends
are based upon the fight between those who want to live outside the law and
those that have upheld it. Sadly this is
not the case in Ukraine nor will it be until the people of this great nation
re-establish the primacy of the rule of law and take away all the parliamentary
privileges that have enabled a select few to rape and pillage the assets
without repercussion. Think of it this
way… If the United States had followed the same model then today it would be
much like Russia.
Why secure votes, when you can secure vote counters!
One of the biggest risks
of falsification during the parliamentary elections lies in the newly-formed
district electoral committees. Two major parties, the All-Ukrainian Union
“Svoboda” (a nationalist party) and UDAR (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for
Reform headed by Vitaliy Klitschko), that otherwise have every chance of
getting seats in the new Parliament, were not allowed to elect representatives
to these committees. The representatives of these parties stated that they plan
to turn to the High Court of Appeals to correct this situation and in the event
that the reaction is negative, they plan to appeal to international courts and
the wider public(3).
Members of the Central
Election Commission of Ukraine claim that everything went as foreseen by the
law. Specifically, after the draw only 19 political parties received the right
to include their candidates into the district committees. Meanwhile, in a
blatant abuse of democratic protocol,
little-known parties such as “Rus United”, “Russian Block”, “Ukrainian
Anarchist Union”, “Young people to government”, “Brotherhood”, “People’s Labour
Union of Ukraine” and others, that in many cases have as little as a single
candidate running in one majority constituency, got into every single one of
the 225 district election commissions. Coincidentally, parties that are
critical of the government and have popular support received no representation
among the bodies responsible for administrating the counting of votes).
Experts were quick to
note the threat to the integrity to the upcoming elections. There is a
widespread belief that the massively over-represented small parties are pro-Russian
puppet parties in collusion with the ruling Party of Regions. At the same time,
political analysts underline that the opposition was too late in reacting to
the situation; decisions on the formation of electoral commissions were made a
long time ago(5). In essence the inaction of the opposition has
allowed the ruling party to define the election rules on their own terms. If
such behaviour continues on the part of the opposition the government will have
won before even a single vote has been cast.
Comment: When are the people of this
country and in fact this region going to get it through their heads that the
rule of law is not something you play with in order to gain advantage over
another, it is the very foundation of the society in which you live. If the law can be manipulated then it has no
value and those that manipulate it hold no respect. In any society the young learn from the
examples set by their elders. If father
observes and upholds the law then so will the children. If father lives a life of crime then it is
very likely that the children will follow.
In modern societies the leaders are supposed to set an example for the
rest of the nation to follow as without clear leadership backed by the will and
the enthusiasm of the majority the nation will simply lapse into apathy and
In Ukraine this is exactly what is happening. This nation is following in the footsteps of
the Presidents and a fine example they have set. Each one carved their own little niche of manipulation
as they sought to abuse the law to achieve their financial and political
ends. All each has succeeded in doing is
to undermine yet further the rule of law to a point where today almost anybody
can bend the law in any way they chose and the Central Election Commission is
just another example
You cannot build a nation on elastic laws and flexible
interpretation. The law needs to be set
in stone and designed to be fair and equal to all sectors of society. Those that administrate the law must apply it
equally and without favour, even in Ukraine.
Yes it may make life inconvenient for some but if Ukrainians want to
live in an orderly and progressive society that is the price. Some truly believe that wealth can only be
generated by bending the law. If that is
the case one has to ask why Ukraine languishes so close to the bottom of the
league of successful nations.
Young Ukrainians see no future in Ukraine
Ukraine continues to
supply a workforce to the European Union and Russia. According to data from the
International Organization for Migration over 6 million of the world’s emigrant
population are Ukrainians; and half of them are under 35 years of age. For
Ukrainian young people, going abroad means an opportunity to get a good
education and employment. Experts think that only decent wages, availability of
housing, improvement of social services and an increase of state interest in
educated young people could return the Ukrainian youth home. Education is a
particularly strong motive for leaving Ukraine. In the last three years the
number of those wanting to study abroad has increased by 10%. In getting higher
education, Ukrainian students give preference primarily to Great Britain,
Canada, Poland, USA, Czech Republic and Baltic countries. The situation has
reached a stage where over 50 percent of Ukrainians, aged between 18 and 29,
are prepared to emigrate from Ukraine(6).
During the first 10-15
years after receiving Independence in 1991, Ukraine lost a huge wealth of
intellect as the majority of migrants were scientists and professionals from
technical spheres. Now it is the young who seek jobs abroad and if the
situation continues along its current vector Ukraine is bound to significantly
weaken its gene pool and its perspectives of social and economic development.
Unfortunately, the majority of Ukrainians who get jobs abroad (the biggest
numbers go to the USA, Canada and Russia) do not return to Ukraine to
contribute their efforts to its development(7). Thus, whilst the
government largely ignores a demographic crisis, an unfavourable internal
labour market, difficulties in the economy and the generally low living
standards, young people will keep looking for better life abroad.
People First Comment: Migration to safer locations is something that is
deep rooted in the psychology of every single animal and human being on the
planet. In times of trouble it is
perfectly natural to seek out safer places.
In times of flood animal’s move to higher ground, in times of drought
they move to where there is water and in times of economic crisis we humans
migrate to places where there is work and security.
In fact man
will go to extraordinary lengths to secure their freedom. In the late 1800’s more than half the
population of Ireland crossed over to the Americas to seek a new and better
life. At the end of the Second World War
it is estimated that some 24 million were classified as displaced peoples in
Europe alone. In the 1990’s when Poland
joined the EU almost a million Poles migrated to parts of the United Kingdom to
the point where in some districts Polish became the dominant language and today
some 50,000 people a year in North Africa risk their lives in poorly equipped
and unseaworthy boats dreaming of a new life in the EU.
People however rarely want
to give up all they know and love to move to totally alien environments, most
are driven either by economic hardship or repression. The fact that young people are leaving
Ukraine in droves is the result of both.
Ukraine is at present a pretty awful place to live if you are young and
full of ideas. Salaries are miserly,
prospects are non-existent, jobs are few and far between, the press is
controlled, television has been numbed down to almost moronic standards, there
is no debate, little freedom, no money, no security, no legal system and for
most no future… all the ingredients for a steady flow of migrants out of the
What makes the matter worse
is that many of the top brains of the country are being educated abroad where
that can see how countries are supposed to work, where societies function,
where their rights are respected and salaries are worth working for. Can anybody blame them for wanting to stay
abroad? The only way to hold onto the
brains we have or to attract back those who have left is to build a society
that is attractive, safe and secure, where the rule of law takes precedent,
investors are happy to build and families feel secure enough to raise their
children. But for that this country
needs a completely new generation of politicians that are prepared to work
within the law to build a society worthy of the name Ukraine.
Double standards between big and little brother
Despite all the
assurances of their high respect for Ukrainian people living in Russia given by
the highest commanders of the Russian Federation, Russia’s recent moves are
hard to describe as being friendly towards Ukrainians. Not long before
Ukraine’s Independence Day (24 August) the Board of Appeals of the Supreme
Court of Russia confirmed the legitimacy of decision concerning the liquidation
of the Union of Ukrainians in Russia, approved earlier this year (18 May) by
the Supreme Court of Russia. Based on this decision, the Union of Ukrainians in
Russia was to be liquidated and excluded from the Unified State Registry of
Legal Entities. Following that, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine
issued a statement on the prejudiced attitude towards the activity of Ukrainian
diaspora in Russia.
Officially around 8 million
Russians live in Ukraine, whilst there are up to 4-5 million Ukrainians in
Russia. At the same time the conditions for the two respective diasporas in
Ukraine and Russia are very different.
Pressure on and
On 17 April 2008 the
On 24 November 2010
After the new
In most regions of
On 26 May 2012, after
the liquidation of the Union of Ukrainians in Russia, representatives of the
Ukrainian diaspora have approved a decision to create the Ukrainian Congress in
Russia – an organisation representing the Ukrainian community in the Russian
Federation. Thus, despite the adverse actions of the Russian authorities,
Ukrainians in Russia will keep their identity. But the double standards in the
matters of national culture and language offered by the Russian authorities
certainly will not aid the mutual understanding and accord of the Russian and
Comment: In some ways we should feel
just a little bit sorry for mother Russia.
20 or so years ago she lost her family.
Her repressed children ran away to play in the real world and now all
that she does is focused on bringing her children home so that she can reassert
her somewhat warped priorities and authority.
Sadly as with all families her children have grown up, moved on and
found their own independence. Times have changed and rather than being
respected as a mother of nations mother Russia is now despised for her anger,
her temper and her thoughtlessness. In
reality Russia today may swagger with the arrogance of a sergeant major but
sadly behind all the bombast there is just a rather sad little person stamping
their feet and the treatment of Ukraine is but one example.
Russia is not the only
imperial mother to lose her brood. The
British Empire was at its peak in 1896.
Since then all the children have flown the coupe but unlike Russia,
Britain has maintained its dignity to the point that rather than trying to
suppress and control those that left she has encouraged their departure with
education, the rule of law and democratic parliamentary systems. As a result the children of the former Empire
set up the Commonwealth where there is equal respect, equal dignity and equal
opportunity. Such is the power of this
new found family that today it forms one of the world’s stronger economic
The two examples could not
be in greater contrast. It is a hard
lesson but Russia really does have to come to terms with modern reality and to
stop thinking it can rule in the 21st century using 19th
century philosophy. We no longer want to live in the world of the arms race and
the nuclear threat. We are tired of the
state sponsored energy games and financial manipulation as we have found that
there is much more that can be gained from life through participation than
could ever have been achieved through imposed power and military might.
Victor Tkachuk is chief executive officer of the Kyiv-based People
First Foundation (www.peoplefirst.org.ua), a former deputy secretary of
the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, adviser to three
Ukrainian presidents and a former parliament member, Tkachuk can be
reached via email@example.com.